In its short but successful existence, Oil Heat Cares has yet to turn down one job that has helped a family in need. What keeps this well-“oiled” machine running? One word: generosity. And for OHC, the donations of time, equipment and funds always seem to be there at the right time.

“It kind of reminds me of something my mother often said,” says Judy Garber, executive administrator for the National Association of Oil Heat Service Managers. “'Have faith; support your church or favorite charity. It will always come back to you when you need it the most.' Every time the [OHC] checkbook looked kind of lean, a check would show up.”

The checks roll in, and so do equipment donations and corporate sponsors for various events. This year especially, OHC has some pretty aggressive fund-raising events planned, which already have exceeded the organization's goals for involvement and financial expectations. In fact, this very supplement you're holding will give something back to OHC by way of sharing some advertising proceeds.

Fund-raising events in 2005 included two educational seminars that netted about $10,000 for OHC. One of those seminars was Dan Holohan's “Dead Men Steam” class, which, with the help of manufacturer sponsors Bell & Gossett; ITT; McDonald & Miller; and Bacharach, helped defray the cost of food and room rental in order for registration proceeds to go to the charity.

But for the early days of the charity, Garber gives much credit to many of the 30 chapters of NAOHSM, who were integral when OHC was getting off the ground. Individually, the chapters offer fund-raising events at meetings, including holding silent auctions, Nights At The Races, and selling OHC merchandise (i.e., T-shirts and wristbands) at community events.

One New England oil heat company, Rye Fuel, raffled off a flat-panel television to its customers and managed to raise $550 for OHC.

“The nice part about this was, yes, the money sent to Oil Heat Cares was wonderful, but the awareness was even better,” Garber says.

Besides the continuous individual member contributions, OHC will have its largest fund-raising event to date at NAOHSM's 53rd Annual Convention and Trade Show, to be held May 14-18 in Hartford, Conn. So far, the “Care to Ride” program is shaping up to be a winner. The list of corporate sponsors (which includes Plumbing & Mechanical) is lengthy, a venerable who's-who of the industry's leading manufacturers and wholesalers.

Participants in the event can choose either a 35- or 15-mile bike ride, or a three-mile walk along the Connecticut River Walk. They are required to pledge a minimum of $100, but can raise more money by getting friends and family to pitch in.

“When Don Farrell, publisher of Oilheating Journal suggested this event, he made it his personal goal to raise $20,000 for Oil Heat Cares. I thought, 'He's got to be dreaming,'” says Garber. “Well, we've got over $50,000 in corporate sponsorships so far.” As a professional event, there will be some costs, but Garber believes - without a doubt - the industry will raise well over the original goal, and hopes “Care to Ride” will become an annual event.

Later this year at the Oil Heat Retreat, Sept. 21-24 in Lancaster, Pa., a full day will be devoted to educational seminars by industry leaders, including Holohan; Oil Tech Talk's Alan Mercurio; NORA trainers Bob Hedden and John Levey; John Hall from The ACHR News; and Tom Butcher of Brookhaven National Laboratory. The series sponsor, Burnham Hydronics, has stepped forward to enable all registration fees for the seminars to be donated to OHC.

Money isn't the only thing offered freely by the industry. Oil heat equipment and labor is also donated to the charity. OHC supporters have been very generous, Garber says. “We've been able to pick up the cost of the entire job in most cases, with [equipment] costs per job ranging from $1,500-$3,500.”

Procuring equipment at a discount isn't hard to come by, Garber says, but it does require some paperwork and communication. Cooperation at the wholesale level has been very helpful in getting the “laundry list” of needed items taken care of.

Instead of warehousing equipment, OHC has communicated with many manufacturers who will make material available as projects are proposed. OHC keeps a list of those items and suppliers on under the Available Resources link. The chapter or person spearheading a project can then contact the manufacturer or supplier identified on the site to get the available items shipped directly.

“I know that the new IRS status has caused people to look at Oil Heat Cares as a place to make a charitable donation,” says Garber. “One manufacturer, R.W. Beckett, thought about our foundation when it came to Christmas presents for their customers. Instead of sending their customers gifts, they made a contribution to Oil Heat Cares.”

Ideally, the organization would like to get to a point where the foundation has a significant bank account in order to help as many communities as possible.

“How much? My dream would be maybe $250,000. Is that realistic? Well, knowing what the 'Care to Ride' event will net, I don't think it is unrealistic,” Garber says. By getting OHC to a sound, reasonable amount, it can count on two or three fund-raising events a year. Then it can concentrate on continued awareness for the charity and replenishing funds.

Awareness in the community is a major part of Oil Heat Cares, and the charity knows that an organization like this shows the difference between an oil company and a utility.

“Many oil heat companies have done Oil Heat Cares-type projects on their own - they just didn't advertise the fact,” Garber says. The new tax status, community awareness and the success of Oil Heat Cares has brought out the stewardship in many businesses that may have been hidden before. “Our members are quite civic minded and charitable. It is just natural for them to get involved with the Oil Heat Cares Foundation.”

For more information on the “Care To Ride” event, contact Don Farrell at 973/331-9545, or for other fund-raising opportunities, call Judy Garber at 688/552-0900.